Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 80% of interpreting assignments were performed onsite. The rest were conducted either over the phone (OPI) or via video remote. But that number flipped within weeks as industries scrambled to adapt to the “new normal.” While telemedicine made it easier for healthcare providers to make the switch, the legal system struggled to adapt.

Fast forward a year, and certain types of virtual legal proceedings are becoming the norm—and so is remote legal interpreting. Here’s how you can ensure that transition is as smooth as possible.


Choosing a Remote Legal Interpreter  


Remote interpreting options mean that the talent pool is bigger than ever. You no longer need to hire an interpreter who can travel within a limited radius. But that also makes it harder to decide who’s the best fit for an assignment. Before you hire someone, consider:


  • State Certification – In some scenarios, you many need an interpreter who is certified in your state. Even if certification isn’t required, you should still work with an in-state interpreter, as they’ll have training in state-specific laws.
  • Legal Specialization – Some legal interpreters have undergone training in a specific area of law such as immigration. If you need someone with a particular background, ask about their experience in the field as well as any references.
  • Remote Interpreting Experience – Not all interpreters have experience working remotely. Before you hire someone, ask about the remote training they’ve had and whether they’re comfortable working in a virtual format.


Now that you know a little more about how to choose a remote interpreter, let’s move on to how to prepare them for an assignment.


Preparing a Remote Legal Interpreter  


Although remoting interpreting makes it possible to connect someone on-demand, that doesn’t mean you should forgo scheduling a session. That’s because the interpreter still needs time to familiarize themselves with the case, review terminology, and gain an understanding of the session’s goals.


If you normally have rehearsals with an onsite interpreter, schedule those remotely as well. For example, say you’re a lawyer who has a client with limited English proficiency. You could schedule a remote rehearsal session with the client and the legal interpreter to help ensure both parties know what to expect.


Preparing for a Remote Legal Interpreting Session


Last, but certainly not least, you need to prepare for the session itself. Remote interpreting poses some unique challenges that can impact the outcome. You’ll need to address these to prevent interruptions. Before you start:


  • Check your internet connect to ensure there are no lags.
  • Test your camera and microphone, if it’s a video remote session.
  • Minimize noise and distractions.


Following these tips will help you recreate a professional setting within the virtual space.


How Boostlingo Can Help    


With Boostlingo’s interpreting platform, it’s easier than ever to find a legal interpreter, schedule a session, and conduct one over the phone or remote video. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or tablet with a web cam to get started. Plus, you’ll gain access to the Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) of interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Start your free trial today!

With COVID-19 vaccinations well underway, the end of the pandemic may soon be in sight. Yet barriers to getting vaccinated still exist, especially among low income and limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers. Although healthcare organizations have worked to improve access to Spanish medical interpreters, many are falling behind when it comes to other languages. And that’s left Asian communities, with their diverse language needs, struggling to navigate the healthcare system. Fortunately, remote interpreting options can bridge this barrier, and help ensure everyone who wants the vaccine can get it.


The Diversity of Asian Communities


Before we dive into the benefits of remote interpreting, let’s take a look at Asian communities in the U.S.


According to a 2019 Census Bureau population estimate, roughly 18.9 million Asians live in the U.S., making up 5.7% of the total population. States with the largest Asian populations include: California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.


However, English proficiency and income levels vary widely within groups and significantly impact their ability to access healthcare.


Overall, 30.9% of Asian Americans speak English “less than very well.” Broken out by national origin, the following groups reported the same:


  • Vietnamese – 48.2%.
  • Chinese – 42%.
  • Filipinos – 19.8%
  • Asian Indians – 17.7%


Asians are also the most economically divided group in the county. In 2016, Asians in the top 90th percentile of income distribution had 10.7 times the income of Asians in the 10th percentile. African Americans made up the second most divided group (9.8), followed by Whites (7.8) and Hispanics (7.8).


When it comes to healthcare, vulnerable Asian Americans—including refugees and the elderly—are often faced with both language and income barriers. Lack of access to technology and transportation can make it difficult to even make an appointment in states such as Texas.


Bridging Language Barriers with Remote Interpreting


The good news is that language barriers are easy to overcome with remote interpreting. Options such as video remote (VRI) and over-the-phone (OPI) interpreting offer affordable ways to connect with a medical interpreter on demand. Patients no longer need to wait for an interpreter to arrive onsite, and healthcare providers no longer need to pay for travel expenses.


When you use Boostlingo’s interpretation platform, you never have to worry about privacy—it’s HIPAA compliant. Plus, you’ll gain access to our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN), which supports over 200 languages including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Guajarati, and many other Asian languages.


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American Sign Language (ASL) has a complicated history in the U.S. Prior to 1817, hearing families of deaf children relied on informal signs to communicate. That changed for some when Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet opened the American School for the Deaf that same year. Adopting the methods of the National Institute for Deaf Children of Paris, he helped create a formal signing system for deaf students. But deaf African American children were excluded from receiving an education.


The Origin of Black American Sign Language (BASL)


While white children could learn ASL as early as 1817, it wasn’t until after the Civil War that African American children could do the same. In 1869, the North Carolina School for the Negro Deaf and Blind opened to serve the community. However, due to segregation, the students began learning a distinct form of ASL that would one day be known as Black American Sign Language.


Although school segregation was ruled unlawful in 1954, many schools in the American South remained largely segregated into the 1970s. That meant deaf African American students who lived in the region continued learning BASL.


Today, deaf African American students attend integrated schools and learn to use ASL in formal settings. Yet many still prefer to use BASL among family, friends, and within their community.


How BASL Differs From ASL


The two languages are mutually intelligible, but BASL has a few distinct features. These include using:


  • Larger signing spaces, which means signs are produced further away from the body.
  • Two-handed variants of signs.
  • More facial expressions.
  • African American slang.
  • More repetition.


To see for yourself, check out this two-minute video with Charmay, the 22-year-old deaf TikToker who went viral.


Interpreting for BASL


In some settings, an ASL interpreter with a background in BASL can more accurately interpret between sign language and English. That’s because an understanding of the cultural differences and nuances of BASL helps ensure no information is lost. Church services and Hip-hop concerts are just two types of events where BASL interpreting makes all the difference.


Preserving BASL for Future Generations


Unfortunately, BASL hasn’t always received the respect and recognition it deserves. Even today, ASL is often considered the standard for deaf signers.


As Carolyn McCaskill, a professor at Gallaudet University told ABC News, “White is right—that’s what I thought. That was what was prevalent.” A deaf sign language user herself, she wants to change that perception. McCaskill has already written a book titled The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL and is the founding director of Gallaudet’s Center for Black Deaf students.


Organizations such as the North Carolina Black Deaf Advocates (NCBDA) have also developed programming that fosters and protects BASL as well as members of the community.


So, what can you do to help it alive? By spreading the world about BASL and its unique culture, we can all help debunk the myth that it’s an inferior form of sign language!

It’s no secret that cities serve as immigration hubs. Yet an increasing number of new arrivals call rural America home. In fact, immigrants have accounted for 37% of the rural population growth since 2000. While they’ve made a positive impact on these communities, they often face challenges that their city-dwelling counterparts may not. And lack of access to an interpreter is a major one. Fortunately, remote interpreting options make it easier than ever to provide language services, regardless of location.


Urban vs. Rural Immigrant Communities


Before we dive into the benefits of remote interpreting, let’s take a look at some of the differences between urban and rural immigrant communities.


Compared to urban immigrants, rural immigrants are more likely to be Hispanic and non-Hispanic white. Over half of rural immigrants (54.2%) are Hispanic, making them the largest group by far. Non-Hispanic white make up the next largest group (25.9%), followed by Asians (14.3%), and non-Hispanic blacks (2.4%).


When it comes to education and income, rural immigrants typically have less education and are more likely to live in poverty. About two-thirds of rural immigrants have only a high school degree or less compared to half of urban immigrants. And about 31.6% of rural non-citizen immigrants are poor.


However, English language skills are similar between the two groups. Approximately 71% of rural immigrants speak English well, followed by 18.3% who speak some English, and 10% who speak no English.


Rural immigrant communities are also, by their very nature, smaller than urban ones. That poses a significant challenge when it comes to recruiting interpreters and providing languages services when needed.


How Remote Interpreting Can Help


Regardless of their location, immigrants rely on interpreters to help them navigate the healthcare system, legal system, and more. Yet onsite interpreters typically book appointments in advance and charge higher rates due to travel costs. This leaves rural immigrants and the organizations that serve them in a difficult position. Thankfully, remote interpreting options such as video remote (VRI) and over-the-phone (OPI) offer affordable, on-demand alternatives.


Although no virtual interaction can perfectly replicate an in-person experience, VRI helps build trust between speakers and the interpreter by providing an easy-to-use video chat-like option. It works well for telehealth appointments, during court hearings, and other scenarios that involve more personal interactions. However, it does require a high-speed internet connection.


If you don’t have high-speed internet in your area, don’t worry. OPI is still a good option. It also works well when a conversation is shorter and less personal. Scheduling a medical appointment or speaking with a customer service representative are just two scenarios where you may choose OPI over VRI.


Connecting with Boostlingo


With Boostlingo’s interpreting platform, you can connect with an interpreter in minutes using the over-the-phone or video interpreting option. You can even schedule an onsite interpreter for upcoming appointments. Plus, it’s easy to use. All you need is a computer or mobile device, an internet connection, and a webcam for video calls.

Want to try boost Boostlingo for yourself? Contact us today to start your free trial!